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Wheeler's Mother 'Enraged' After Viewing Practice Video

August 20, 2001|Lance Pugmire

The mother of Northwestern football player Rashidi Wheeler said Sunday she was enraged after viewing a video replay of the controversial practice in which her son died.

"The most appalling thing other than the sight of watching Rashidi suffer was that they continued the drill and showed no regard for him--for human life," said Linda Will, Wheeler's mother from her home in Ontario. "To them, it was business as usual and I'm enraged, I trusted them with my child. They apparently didn't think enough of him to stop the drill. What else can you think? They don't value human life."

Will described the video of the practice, to which she later forwarded to her attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr., as proof of negligence by university staff.

The tapes of the Aug. 3 workout, show the senior safety from La Verne Damien High wobbling and dropping to his hands and knees as he attempts to complete rigorous wind sprints.

Later, an ambulance arrives and paramedics try to resuscitate Wheeler while some players gather around holding hands and bowing their heads. Other players, meanwhile, continue to take the conditioning test.

While the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office ruled Wheeler, 22, died of bronchial asthma, Will has criticized the university for not having an operable field phone, and contends staff was inadequately prepared for an emergency.

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